Reportedly, the Patriots are about to sign un-drafted running back Jeff Demps from the University of Florida, and he is also a recent Olympic silver medalist with blazing speed. He does have a background as being a returner, and that made me think about the future of Julian Edelman with the Patriots.
I know Demps is a running back, and Edelman is a wide receiver, but at this point in his career, I feel Mr. Edelman would make this team as a returner. Edelman could be on the hot seat the rest of the pre-season attempting to hold on to his job.
In college, Demps averaged 28.25 yards per return which is pretty good, and in his freshman year also had a few punt returns so he does have some experience in that area as well. He also had a very productive career running the ball averaging 6.73 yards per carry, and had 23 touchdowns for his career.
Now, I could see why some might think that Danny Woodhead could be on the hot seat, but that is not how I see it. Woodhead has been a productive and clutch running back for the Patriots. He averaged 4.6 yards per carry last season which is really good. He has been more than just a third down back, and I feel has a significant role on the Patriots.
In the case of Demps, he could be used at running back, but like we have seen with other running backs lately, he might have to wait a season to truly get a chance to play.
So, that leaves us with the potential of Demps being a returner. The Patriots have lacked a real good kick-off returner for awhile now. He might be able to fill that role, and maybe get a shot at punt returner as well.
Edelman has had his moments with the Patriots, but his flashes have been too far apart. As a wide receiver he has not lived up to the potential we saw in his first season as he had 37 receptions in 2009. The last two seasons, he has had a combined 11 receptions.
Coach Belichick likes players that have versatility and upside. Demps has the potential to be a returner in his first season, and maybe has a role as a running back in future seasons.
On the flip side, Edelman has a role as a returner, but I don’t see him have any upside as a wide receiver since his production has gone down the last two seasons.
So, if you want to look at a battle for a roster spot, I think Mr. Edelman will have to beat out a silver medalist from the Olympics to stick with the Patriots this season. I will be following these two players closely the rest of the pre-season.